As a common rule, any essay that features the one-sentence paragraph “I’m right here to carry the excellent news” is written by somebody who needs to take your cash, your vote, or your soul. So far as I do know, Marc Andreessen, the browser pioneer and cofounder of powerhouse VC agency Andreessen Horowitz, isn’t operating for workplace. However the Techno-Optimist manifesto he posted this week (it’s a behavior with him) is certainly bullish on inflating his already bloated pockets—and narrowing the broad arc of human existence with a relentless pursuit of recent and even dangerous expertise.
Andreessen’s bolt from late-stage capitalism’s Mount Olympus—Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Street—landed this week to a combination of kudos and outrage. He posits that expertise is the important thing driver of human wealth and happiness. I’ve no downside with that. In reality, I too am a techno-optimist—or a minimum of I used to be earlier than I learn this essay, which attaches poisonous baggage to the time period. It’s fairly darn apparent that issues like air-conditioning, the web, rocket ships, and electrical mild are safely within the “win” column. As we enter the age of AI, I’m on the aspect that thinks that the advantages are effectively price pursuing, even when it requires vigilance to make sure that the results gained’t be disastrous.
However Andreessen’s screed isn’t nearly how nice it’s that we people are a tool-building bunch. It’s additionally an over-the-top declaration of humanity’s future as a tech-empowered tremendous species—Ayn Rand resurrected as a Substack creator. “Know-how should be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to power them to bow earlier than man,” he writes. “We consider that we’re, have been, and can all the time be the masters of expertise, not mastered by expertise. Sufferer mentality is a curse in each area of life, together with in our relationship with expertise—each pointless and self-defeating. We aren’t victims, we’re conquerors.” (The italics are his.) If this essay had a soundtrack it could be Wagner’s “Experience of the Valkyries.” Andreessen may need missed out on making an early funding in Uber, however he’s all-in on the Übermensch. He even cites Friedrich Nietzsche as one in all his “Patron Saints of Techno-Optimism.”
Maybe a greater title for this essay can be “The Techno-Billionaire Manifesto,” because it makes an attempt to justify not solely an unquestioning pursuit of expertise however the late-stage capitalism that gives out-of-whack rewards for the system’s winners—like Andreessen. In his argument, the market-based “Techno Capital Machine” is the infallible generator of advantage and manufacturing. By no means thoughts the astonishing revenue inequality that has dragged the world down and fomented harmful political unrest. Cash, proclaims Andreessen, is the one motivator able to producing the enormous technological leaps that advance humanity. This might be information to the inventors of the web, who had been civil servants and tutorial geeks with zero revenue motive. In reality, for a few years they had been adamantly against any commercialization by any means.
Andreessen does proclaim that he opposes monopolies and regulatory seize. Possibly he believed that when his browser firm Netscape was buried by Microsoft. However that’s a hole declaration from somebody who’s sat on the board of Fb, now Meta, for 15 years. I’d like to peek on the minutes to see how typically he has inveighed towards monopoly and lobbying in board conferences.
Andreessen argues that superior expertise creates abundance that lifts all people. “We consider there isn’t a battle between capitalist earnings and a social welfare system that protects the susceptible,” he writes. However although he won’t understand it from his dwelling in Atherton, California—the nation’s richest zip code—the nation he lives in presents a counterargument. Whereas the US has essentially the most superior expertise on the planet, the life expectancy of its residents has dropped. Certainly he is aware of of the homelessness downside in America’s cities, most obvious in close by San Francisco? He may even have learn that the overwhelming majority of common Individuals can’t afford to purchase a house, and that 40 p.c would wrestle to cowl an sudden $400 expense. The Techno-Capital machine doesn’t appear to be working for them. However don’t fear—Andreessen cites an Andy Warhol quote celebrating how effectively our system works as a result of poor individuals and wealthy individuals alike can get pleasure from a Coca-Cola. Let ’em drink sugar water!